South Carolina Democrat Offers True Common Sense Addition to Constitutional Carry Law

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

South Carolina state Sen. Deon Tedder isn't a fan of the state's new Constitutional Carry law. He called it a bad idea when it was introduced in the Senate, and after passage informed voters that he's long been opposed to the idea. 


It's somewhat surprising, then, that Tedder is running a bill related to the new law that actually makes sense. Instead of trying to come up with new "gun-free zones" where lawful carry isn't allowed, Tedder instead believes that those charged with unlawfully carrying before Gov. Henry McMaster signed Constitutional Carry into law should have their cases dismissed.

“You get pulled over for speeding or whatever, and the officer says, ‘Do you have a gun?’ ‘Sure,’ and it’ll be between the seat, under the seat, in the bookbag,” Sen. Deon Tedder (D-Charleston) said. “You would either have to have it in a locked compartment in your vehicle or in your center console.”

That type of incident was previously a violation of the law in South Carolina and would have likely led to an unlawful carry charge.

But under the permitless carry gun bill the governor signed into effect last month, it is no longer illegal.

“So person A pled guilty to unlawful carry two days before Gov. McMaster signed the bill. They can get that expunged,” Tedder said.

That expungement is allowed under the new law, as long as the person was convicted before its enactment in early March.

But it does not account for people who have pending unlawful carry charges that have now been nullified by the new law, so this bill would dismiss those charges. 

“The intent of this is not to find some loophole to just throw away cases,” Tedder said. “This is legitimately to protect those who now, I mean, constitutionally, are allowed to carry anywhere, to not have to plead guilty.”

Tedder said this would also clear a backlog of unlawful carry charges that prosecutors have before them to help alleviate their crowded dockets.

There is a caveat: If that unlawful possession charge was used as probable cause for another offense arising from the same incident, this bill would not dismiss the other charges.


I don't have a problem with this, and apparently none of Tedder's colleagues in the Senate have any objections, since his bill cleared the chamber unanimously last week. Why should someone go to trial for something that is no longer illegal? Wouldn't it be better for both prosecutors and defendants to dismiss these charges? 

The South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday that it has some concerns with this bill.

“This bill as written doesn’t allow law enforcement or prosecutors to go and look at every single case and evaluate every single case and make a decision. With that, we think that violates the separation of powers in this state,” South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Sally Foster said. 

With all due respect to Foster, that argument doesn't make a lick of sense. The state legislature has declared it is not a crime for someone who can lawfully possess a firearm to carry it as well. It's well within their power to pass follow-up legislation applying the law to those who were arrested and charged with unlawful carry but weren't adjudicated before the Constitutional Carry law took effect. 

Tedder might not be a fan of Constitutional Carry, but there's nothing objectionable in his bill from a Second Amendment standpoint. Quite the opposite. 


There are only two weeks left in South Carolina's legislative session, so it's unclear whether his bill will get to Gov. McMaster's desk before sine die, but it should receive a vote on the House floor before lawmakers wrap up their work in early May. Anti-gun Democrats love to talk about their "common sense" proposals, but this is one of the few times where that description actually fits. This really is a matter of common sense, and the state would be better off if Tedder's idea, like Constitutional Carry itself, becomes law. 

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